Painting a city has been at times, a subversive act. To one set of eyes, art on a public wall is beautiful, to another, an act of vandalism. There is a tension in street art between public and private space. Words on a wall can speak louder and reach further than a single voice often can. Pictures tell stories binding citizens, place and time—sentiments which have been driving points for street art for all of its artistic, social, political and cultural purposes. The destruction wrought by the wars of the world, natural disasters, poverty, poor city planning and the wear and tear of history are all factors in how a community looks. Whether a city decides to invest in parks, or plant gardens. Often a hasty necessity to build or rebuild and functional, urgent, or poorly funded execution have created the familiar concrete jungles we see around the world. However, in recent years, large-scale public art increasingly adorns buildings, saturating cities with colour and beauty, sometimes ten stories high. The paint becomes a mechanism for amplifying a vision and rebounds it for every pedestrian in transit. Freq takes a look at some of the artists behind Eastern Europe’s latest explosion of creativity, illuminating spaces and minds around the world.

PAWEŁ RYZKO – Based out of his studio in Warsaw, Poland, Ryzko has received high praise for his artistic output, which also includes typography, murals, posters and stencils created stylistically in the constructivist tradition. Having previously worked in the Twożywo crew, he mostly works solo but frequently collaborates with other artists, presently working with the world renowned Sainer from Etam Cru.

AEC INTERESNI KAZKI – Alexsei Bordusov A.K.A. AEC Interesni Kazki is a Ukrainian street artist who paints surrealist large scale murals all over the world. Interesni Kazki literally translates to “Interesting Fairy Tales” and taking a look at his work, you can see why this is the name he has chosen. The fantastical fairy tales with which he decorates public spaces are inspired by the past, myths, mythology, cosmology, religion and science, reflecting a treatment of art as “an opportunity to understand mystical reasons of the Universe.” Having worked a part of Interesni Kazki crew with Waone aka Vladimir Manzhos Waone, AEC now works as a solo artist based out of Kiev, Ukraine.

SOBEKCIS – The Serbian twin brother duo of Sobek and Kcis are known together as Sobekcis. They are also referred to as the Os Gemeos of the Balkans, the Portuguese word for twins, referring to Brazil’s pair of identical graffiti artist siblings. Originally graffiti artists, Sobek and Kcis now blend elements of lettering with pictorial work, fragmented figures and saturated colours. Their interest in dualism creates a synthesis between graphics and illustration.


COMPOTE COLLECTIVE – Compote Collective is an animation production company based out of Bulgaria, comprised of 20 visual artists with a focus on the importance of visual language through animated film, commercials, music videos and other projects. Founded by the animation director duo of Vessela Dantcheva and Ivan Bogdanov in 2008, the artistic platform of their members includes diverse projects for visual storytelling: illustrations, comics, graffiti and educational workshops. Some of the artists in the collective have realized projects for public spaces.

VESSELA DANTCHEVA & IVAN BOGDANOV – Founders of Compote, the murals seen here were inspired by the Bulgarian myths of the Sun and the Moon and their mural “The Sun and the Moon were Brother & Sister” was an exhibition painted directly on the walls of the Ethnographic Museum in Bulgaria, with the participation of other Compote artists.

BOZKO A.K.A. BOZHIDAR SIMEONOV BOZKO A.K.A – Bozhidar Simeonov, a freelance artist who lives and works in Sofia, Bulgaria, creates murals, illustrations, comic books, animation and street art.

YASEN ZGUROVSKI – Born in Gubkin, Russia, Zgurovski holds a degree in cartoon cinema from the New Bulgarian University in Sofia, Bulgaria and has created work featured in magazines around the world

DMITRY YAGODIN – Born in Moscow, Russia, Dmitry now works as a freelance artist with an extensive filmography as an independent director and animator out of Sofia, Bulgaria.

DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR ART STREET ART/GRAFFITI OR PUBLIC ART, AND WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE DIFFERENCE?

Paweł Ryzko: Today I would not choose to label my work as street art or graffiti, which are limiting as they most often refer to specific styles and forms, such as murals and stencils. The label that I find most fitting is “urban art,” which is a wider term and encompasses forms such as neons, installations, or even metalwork in the public city space. Even though my first works were typical street art/DIY punk culture stencils, today I would rather see myself as a successor of mural painters, who decorated huge walls in cities of communist Poland.

DO YOU FEEL YOU ARE ADDRESSING CERTAIN SOCIAL OR POLITICAL THEMES WHEN YOU FORM YOUR IDEAS FOR YOUR MURALS? DO YOU THINK WHEN ART IS PUBLIC IT SHOULD ADDRESS THE THEMES OF THE COMMUNITY, PLACE OR COUNTRY IT IS IN?

Paweł Ryzko: For public art, the context is its most important element and it should always be taken into consideration. Sometimes this attention to the place and local community is explicitly political or addresses particular social issues, which is, for example, visible in my neon installation in Katowice, which addresses the issue of violence, absurd divisions and conflicting identities. On the other hand, this respect for the context may be much more formal and aesthetic. My last year’s mural in Gdynia was designed to fit the modernist architecture of the city and thus celebrate its visual identification and identity. Artists working in public spaces should study the context and design of their works specifically for these places, politically or aesthetically.

Vessela Dantcheva: Most often we search for themes that excite us at the moment. I don’t think that art or public art needs to necessarily be involved in politics or social issues. That would make it very much a proactive medium for some temporary issue. Art is a reflection of life and has the ability to resonate much deeper. If we manage to provoke a new experience or a different point of view to the public, that’s the ultimate goal, I think.

WHAT DO YOU THINK MURALS AND THE ARTISTS AND COLLECTIVES COMMISSIONED FOR MAKING THESE PIECES DO FOR THE COMMUNITY? HOW DO YOU FEEL YOUR ART INTERACTS WITH THE PUBLIC?

Vessela Dantcheva: Murals and graffiti work as a space and mind opener in the continuous, angular shaped city landscape. They could be images or text that create a situation for different understanding.


By MAGDALENA GORSKI

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